Understanding one principle about habit formation can make all the difference.
by Thomas Rutledge Ph.D.
Many people mistakenly attribute their bad habits to character flaws such as laziness or lack of self-discipline.
The real reason that bad habits thrive is because they produce immediate reinforcement.
Most good habits don’t naturally provide immediate reinforcement. However, people can learn to create their own sources of reinforcement.
If you ever needed proof that God has a sense of humor, you need only look at how we’re wired to form habits. Humans are astonishing in their ability to habitualize almost any behavior. With sufficient practice, we can learn to perform tasks of mind-boggling complexity with little or no conscious effort: driving, dancing, playing musical instruments, and speaking multiple languages, among many others.
With our large brains and near limitless habit formation capacities, we possess the ability to master almost any craft and succeed at virtually any endeavor. Yet instead of elevating us to lives of superhuman quality, habits keep most people struggling just to get by. Why? Because the habits that come most naturally to us tend to be bad for our long-term health and happiness.
Although we can turn almost any behavior into a habit, all behaviors do not become habits equally. Because of the underlying biology of habit formation, some behaviors are converted into habits quickly and easily, whereas others behaviors become habits only with substantial time and repetition. Anytime you read information about how long it takes to form habits, take the response with a grain of salt. Remind yourself that it depends on the habit. For example, a child can master the habit of avoiding hot stoves after a single painful experience but may require months of parental assistance to brush their teeth or take their vitamins.
Adults show the same disparities. Consider the ease of forming convenience food habits versus the difficulty of forming nutritious eating habits. Compare the minimal effort required to fall into bad sleep habits versus the challenge of creating good sleeping habits. Procrastinating versus becoming proactive. Spending money versus the habit of saving and investing. In each of these cases, the first habit comes swiftly and naturally to us; the second takes prolonged practice and is fragile even once formed.
If these bad habit-good habit inequities seem unfair, keep in mind that they are not new. Reflect, for instance, on the “seven deadly sins” from the Bible and you may notice a pattern: All represent instinctive human behaviors that easily become enduring habits despite their vices. And each “sin” requires considerable learning and labor to replace with more virtuous habits.
Although some may prefer the interpretation that our affinity for bad habits is the product of a divine sense of humor, neuroscience offers a more useful interpretation. Specifically, bad habits are formed easily primarily because they are rapidly reinforced. Good habits, in contrast, generally are reinforced only much later. Using the above examples, junk food provides immediate gustatory pleasure and stress release; staying up late and sleeping in offer rapid entertainment and comfort rewards; procrastinating instantly spares us effort and risk; and spending gives us a momentary rush of positive emotions, especially if we found a good deal. In comparison, their good habit counterparts may require days, weeks, or even longer to enjoy benefits — even though these benefits are usually much larger than the smaller, immediate rewards of bad habits. To the human brain, the immediacy of the reinforcer is more important than the type or magnitude of the reinforcer.
We struggle to form good habits, therefore, not because of a lack of self-discipline or education but because we are biologically predisposed to repeat behaviors based on their immediate physical, social, and emotional consequences. This principle is true across the animal kingdom and likely predates humans by millions of years. However, only humans have the capacity to turn this principle to their advantage. Let’s look at how.
Using the immediate reinforcement principle to create healthy habits
In the modern world, behaving based on immediate consequences puts us on the road to mental illness, addiction, and metabolic diseases. Yet rather than being constrained by our native habit-forming tendencies, the human mind is uniquely able to create immediate positive consequences for behaviors that ordinarily take time to feel rewarding.
The typical person, for instance, may train for weeks to months to see pronounced exercise benefits. By then, most have given up due to the combination of the lack of visible progress and the immediate rewards offered by alternative behaviors such as social events or entertainment. Without changes to the reinforcement dynamics, this is a difficult cycle to break. To form lasting exercise or other healthy habits, we must introduce our own immediate reinforcers into the behavior. The reinforcement options are many, thankfully, including both external and internal rewards.
Choosing a type or format of exercise we find most enjoyable
Socializing the experience (e.g., workout partners, trainers, exercise groups, dogs)
Building in competition, cooperation, novelty, or adventure
Using a physical or online workout log to help visualize progress
Reward ourselves for achieving daily milestones (e.g. getting to the gym, completing the workout, making a small improvement in performance, etc.)
The above are all examples of external reinforcers we can combine in real time with our desired behaviors to provide sources of immediate positive feedback. As useful as these external systems are, however, immediate internal reinforcers may be even more important for long-term success. Internal reinforcers for behaviors such as exercise, sleep, nutrition, and finances usually come in the form of constructive self-talk and visualization. A single workout may not produce any visible changes in your physique, for example, but this didn’t stop Arnold Schwarzenegger from visualizing changes in his muscles as he was training as a source of internal reinforcement.
High performers in almost every field, similarly, employ positive self-talk during their activities as a real-time strategy to inspire consistency, resilience, and achievement. Importantly, these high performers use many combinations of internal and external reinforcers to create rapid positive feedback; in contrast, most people not only lack these strategies for creating immediate positive feedback for themselves, but they do the opposite. They unintentionally create immediate negative feedback for themselves through self-criticism and other negative self-talk when they are trying to form a new habit. This makes healthy habit formation nearly impossible.
Good news! God probably isn’t punishing you. Instead, bad habits are easy and good habits are hard simply because of how they are reinforced. We can use the rules of reinforcement for us instead of against us, however. With practice, anyone can learn to incorporate sources of immediate reinforcement to form the habits of success and improve their health, wealth, and quality of life.
What You Need to Know About The Insurance Claim Process
While paying insurance premiums is a general fact of life, that doesn’t mean you want to find yourself in a position where you need to act on them. Like it or not, accidents happen. If you need to file a claim on your auto or your home insurance policy, you could be concerned if you’re not familiar with the process.
If you’ve ever wondered, how insurance claims work, you’re not alone. This guide is going to help break down the key elements of the insurance claim process you need to know before you can expect a payout on your policies.
How Do Insurance Claims Work?
An insurance claim is a request filed by a policyholder to a provider asking for compensation for a covered loss. The insurance company will then review the claim, and they can approve it and issue an eventual payout after investigating it, or they deny the claim.
There are a variety of different insurance types – auto, homeowners, renters, life, business owner and so many more – and each of them has a different claims process when you’ve suffered a loss. While the process may not be the same across all of your different policies, there are a few common threads of the insurance claims process you can keep in mind as a guide to help you through it.
If you’ve experienced damage or injury you believe may be covered by your policy, the first step is always to review the details of your coverage. The more you understand about your rights, the more successful you may be in filing a successful claim.
What Does It Mean to File an Insurance Claim?
Filing an insurance claim usually involves filling out a proof of loss form, which outlines the damage you’ve incurred and the compensation you seek from your insurer. You’ll usually need to provide dollar amounts, and you can also include pictures or videos of the damage if applicable.
To file a successful insurance claim, it’s crucial to understand your policy. Know your coverages, deductibles, and limits. You don’t want to find out that your loss isn’t covered or your damage amounted to less than your deductible after you file. The insurance company would still record it, and you wouldn’t receive any reimbursement.
Depending on the damage you experience, you’ll either want to file an auto, home, or liability claim. While there are minor differences in the claims process with each one, they all generally follow the same format.
What to Expect in the Insurance Claim Process
Filing an insurance claim can be a complicated and somewhat confusing process. There’s no one-size-fits-all outcome, and how your insurance claim is handled largely depends on the fine print in your policy.
In most cases, these steps represent the general framing and timeline of filing a claim with your insurance company to help guide you through the process. To help, here are five basic tips for filing a successful insurance claim and what to expect from the process.
1. Communicate With Your Insurance Company
The moment you’ve suffered a loss, regardless of whether or not you’re sure it’s covered under your policy, you should communicate the details to your insurance company. While you may not ultimately decide to file a claim, it’s extremely important to maintain constant contact with your insurance agent.
Not only can your provider help you understand the finer details of your policy during the insurance process, but there may be strict rules regarding the amount of time you have to file the claim at all.
For instance, you may have only a day or two to file a renters insurance claim after you’ve experienced a loss. But, you may have over a year to file a liability claim. The time frame you have to file an auto insurance claim varies by state and by company. Regardless, it’s almost always best to contact your insurer as soon as possible after you’ve experienced a loss.
Also, your insurer may want to see a police report when it comes to car accidents and theft claims (whether it’s home theft or auto theft). Be sure to contact the relevant authorities when you need to after you’ve experienced a loss.
2. Fill Out and Organize Your Paperwork
After you’ve officially filed a claim with your insurance company, you may be required to fill out forms or give a statement regarding the accident or loss. These steps will help your insurance company determine the exact details surrounding the peril and decide to what extent your policy covers the damage or injuries.
In some cases, this stage may involve the process of sharing photographs of the accident or damages. Especially when it comes to property damage, it’s important to document as much as you can so you can present it as evidence to your insurance company. Taking photos and videos of what happened is extremely useful, as well as utilizing a home inventory list.
3. Have Your Damages Appraised
This is the stage where most insurance companies deploy an adjuster or a third-party contractor to assess the full extent of the damages you’ve reported. Your adjuster may want to speak to relevant witnesses and parties, especially in a liability or auto claim, so they may ask you for that contact information.
If you’ve filed an auto insurance claim, this part of the insurance claim process may involve coordinating with a local mechanic or body shop instead of having someone issued to conduct the repairs.
In a home claim, the adjuster will inspect the damage themselves. They’ll need to visit your property. They’ll ask you questions, like a timeframe of how the damage happened. The adjuster will also determine how much it’ll cost to repair the damage.
In a liability claim, the adjuster may ask you to make a statement on what happened, and they may ask you for contact details for the injured party. The adjuster needs to put together a picture as best as he can of what happened to accurately determine a payout.
4. Pay Your Deductible First
The final part of the insurance claim process before payment is issued typically involves paying your deductible. Your insurance company won’t approve your claim if your damage amount is lower than your deductible.
In the event of an auto accident claim, if your damages are designated a total loss, the cost of your deductible is typically deducted from the amount of money issued as a payout. If your claim is part of a liability case, your policy deductible may not apply to the issue of payment.
For a property damage claim, the deductible may vary based on the type of damage you’ve incurred. Wind-related damages sometimes require filing a different deductible than for other covered damages.
Your standard home deductible is usually a fixed amount, such as $2,500 or $5,000. You could pay this for fire damage or theft, for example. But, 19 states (mostly coastal ones) have homeowners also carry a separate hurricane deductible in case of damages from hurricanes. Your hurricane deductible is usually based on a percentage of your dwelling coverage, typically between 1-10%.
For instance, if you have $300,000 worth of dwelling coverage, and your hurricane deductible is 5% of your dwelling coverage, it would come out to $15,000. So, if you suffered damage from a hurricane, it would need to exceed this amount before you could file a claim.
5. What about the repairs?
For a property damage claim, you’ll receive payment from your insurer once you agree on a settlement amount. If you have a mortgage, the payment will likely be made out to both you and your lender, and the money will be released incrementally during the repairs process so funds are available when needed. You probably won’t just receive a lump sum check.
You can get estimates and choose contractors yourself, even though the insurance company may recommend some. The contractor will bill your insurer for payment.
If you filed a claim for personal property loss, your provider will reimburse you for the actual cash value or replacement cost of the stolen items so you can replace them.
How Do Insurance Companies Pay Out Claims?
Your insurance company will issue reimbursement based on the findings of the adjuster. In property damage or auto claims, this payment will likely go to you. If you have a mortgage or car loan, it may be made out to your lender in case they want to manage or organize the repair process.
In a liability claim, your insurance company will compensate the relevant parties instead of funneling the money through you.
Ultimately, your insurance policy is designed to work for you and protect you from unexpected damages or loss – especially when you need it the most. Your provider will always help you assess the damages in the homeowners insurance claims process and determine the appropriate next steps.
Resilience: Build skills to endure hardship
Resilience means being able to adapt to life’s misfortunes and setbacks. Test your resilience level and get tips to build your own resilience.
When something goes wrong, do you tend to bounce back or fall apart?
When you have resilience, you harness inner strength that helps you rebound from a setback or challenge, such as a job loss, an illness, a disaster or a loved one’s death. If you lack resilience, you might dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse.
Resilience won’t make your problems go away — but resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life and better handle stress. If you aren’t as resilient as you’d like to be, you can develop skills to become more resilient.
Adapting to adversity
Resilience is the ability to adapt to difficult situations. When stress, adversity or trauma strikes, you still experience anger, grief and pain, but you’re able to keep functioning — both physically and psychologically. However, resilience isn’t about putting up with something difficult, being stoic or figuring it out on your own. In fact, being able to reach out to others for support is a key part of being resilient.
Resilience and mental health
Resilience can help protect you from various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Also, resilience can also help offset factors that increase the risk of mental health conditions, such as being bullied or previous trauma. If you have an existing mental health condition, being resilient can improve your coping ability.
If you’d like to become more resilient, consider these tips:
Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support and acceptance in good and bad times. Establish other important connections by volunteering or joining a faith or spiritual community.
Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.
Learn from experience. Think of how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through difficult times. You might even write about past experiences in a journal to help you identify positive and negative behavior patterns — and guide your future behavior.
Remain hopeful. You can’t change the past, but you can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.
Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Get plenty of sleep. Eat a healthy diet. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing or prayer.
Be proactive. Don’t ignore your problems. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan, and take action. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event or loss, know that your situation can improve if you work at it.
When to seek professional advice
Becoming more resilient takes time and practice. If you don’t feel you’re making progress — or you don’t know where to start — consider talking to a mental health professional. With guidance, you can improve your resiliency and mental well-being.
How City of New Orleans Can Incentivize Locals to Rebuild Stronger and Better
How many times will New Orleanians rebuild after a major hurricane wrecks their property? Although Ida’s winds were not as destructive as Katrina’s flood waters, the stress of rebuilding is intense. Evacuees returned home much sooner. There is a lot of work to do. But are locals willing and able to do the work of rebuilding again? Should they?
The Perfect Storm
The new levee system was remarkable. It withstood the most powerful storm to hit the state. No flooding within the levee system. But Ida’s strong winds downed trees and ripped off and battered roofs. Ida decimated the power grid. People sweltered in high heat and humidity for days. Yet amidst the misery is renewed hope. If the power company hardens the system, then New Orleans will be around another three hundred years. Actually, Ida was the perfect storm. The lessons of Ida are clear. And the opportunity the storm creates is incredible.
How to Restart the Economy
The governor, mayors, parish presidents, council members feel the pressure to get things going now. Many say the best way to move forward is to let the storm chasers get it done. They have the equipment, experience, and are here. License plate from around the country are all you see when you drive around. Residents are calling demanding the debris be removed.
Only using storm chasers is a Trump huge kinda mistake. Many locals are out of work. Local businesses already mired in COVID setbacks see opportunity. And the Stafford Act requires significant DBE participation and outreach. While much has be made about Entergy’s NO East plant being oversold, more can be said about our lack of internal capacity.
Hurricane prone New Orleans should be the capital for storm reconstruction services. Hardened levee system. Hardened electric grid. Protected water supply system. And storm businesses immediately ready to serve. Two tracks are necessary. Business and people.
Our businesses must have funding, equipment and properly trained people. And this can be accomplished easily. Hardening our infrastructure requires the same equipment and skills to rebuild it. Investing in local DBE businesses makes the most sense. This reduces crime immediately. Crime and unemployment are directly linked. Local businesses hire local people who know the city. This sensitivity improves the entire rebuilding efforts locally. How we can invest in our local businesses:
Immediate access to low interest loans
Easy access to equipment leases
Contracting preferences and set asides
Parish liaison officer who provides real time updates
Stafford Act requirements training
Still over 50% of African American men are unemployed in New Orleans. Many are job hesitant dur to COVID. But outside work offers more flexibility. And we must train our people to do the work. Delgado community college, high school summer programs, city based jobs training programs and state funded programs must begin training programs. Train should include:
heavy equipment training,
light equipment training,
and other soft skills
And now is the perfect time. Federal disaster money is flowing to town. This money must flood local black businesses. I bet dollars to doughnuts people would be happy to wait an extra two weeks to have debris removed if they knew local companies with local employees would be doing the work. The work has to be done now. Invest in our companies now. Give contracts to local companies to do the work. Local banks must participate by helping business lease equipment to do the work. The equipment is in town. The companies are here. Our people are here. The work is here. Ida was the perfect storm.
Let’s get to work New Orleans!! Grow Local Black Owned Businesses.
…we didn’t mean what you thought we meant when we said what we said about that power plant in The East. You heard that during power failures the plant would be capable of providing power to the city. You assumed that meant the entire city. As they say outside the boardroom, that’s your bad. What we meant was just a little sliver of the city in The East, French Quarter, and CBD. But since you made your assumption a key factor in whether this plant would be built or not, we felt, at the time, that it would be improper to correct you.
…the tower just fell over. Yep, just fell over, into the water. And the transmission lines just snapped. Seriously. That’s what happened. Neither had anything to do with us not keeping up with our distribution system. Excuse me? Yes, the city fined us a $1 million for not properly maintaining our distribution system. And yes, that was only a year and a half ago. But no, our failures and the failures of the lines and tower are totally unrelated. As we said, the lines just snapped. And the tower just fell over, into the water. Yes, that is our final answer.
…at the time we felt that all starts mattered, not just black ones. Yes, I know. We did market this plant as having black start capability. That meant that it could be started during blackouts. But we, as a company, began to find that type of language divisive and not appreciative of what all starts have to offer. So as a company, we felt it would be best for us not to participate in actions that would bring further division to the city. So, we didn’t initiate a black start after the power went out. Yes, we are aware that this caused people to suffer unnecessarily in sweltering heat for 2 days. But hey, at least we all suffered together.
…we brought joy and air conditioning to 475 homes 3 days after the storm. Yes, most of the city did still remain in darkness. But we…wait just give me a minute. I’ll come up with something. Better than total darkness right?
So we figured that any missteps on our part would be covered in one of those unproductive City Council meetings. You know the ones where council members pretend to be energy experts. Yeah those. It’s amazing. We get to show up totally unprepared. And get this, we’re rarely held accountable for it. They ask a question. And we simply reply, we’ll get back to you on that. Then the line of questioning just goes away. It’s a total show. I would be furious if I were a customer and taxpayer.
Hey it was an unprecedented storm. We did our best. We hope customers are appreciative of that when they open their bills. I mean there’s a lot of cleanup to be done. We’ve lost a lot of equipment. Most importantly though, we need to reassure our investors that Entergy remains a sound investment. And of course, we feel the best way to do that is on the backs of our customers. Try not to think of it as paying higher fees. We prefer to think of it as assisting us in asset stabilization. Yeah, I know that may be hard for some to swallow. But what’s the alternative? Not paying your bill?
I mean, didn’t we just experience life without power? Naturally, we can be reached on our customer service line to answer any questions or concerns. Due to demand, there may be extended hold and wait times. But just hang in there.
Alrighty. Whew! That was great. Hopefully, we can all do this again soon. Until then, enjoy your lights and air conditioning. And just know, here at Entergy, we strive to power life. We strive to bring power to the people. Well, those that pay their bills at least
A multipronged attack can bring back the freshness
By Daniel DiClerico
Rank refrigerator smells take many forms. They might emanate from the quart of milk you didn’t toss before leaving on vacation or some hidden-away deviled eggs. Ever forget a potato at the bottom of the vegetable bin? Worse than you can imagine. Some odors are more offensive than others, naturally, but it’s never a good idea to let them persist because they can permeate every inch of the fridge right down to the mechanicals and can be difficult to remove.
But with a little patience and perseverance you can stanch the stench. Here’s a step-by-step guide from Consumer Reports.
Step 1: Take Everything Out
Even if you’ve identified the offending item, you need to empty the entire contents of the refrigerator and freezer. If you have a second fridge, stash perishables there. If the odor is the result of a power outage, don’t take any chances by hanging onto food that may have spoiled. A refrigerator will keep food at safe temperatures for about 4 hours, if it’s left unopened, according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services.
Step 2: Handwash Bins and Shelves
Take out the shelves, bins, crisper drawers, ice trays, and any other loose components and wash them in the sink with hot, soapy water. For particularly pervasive refrigerator smells, mix up a sanitizing solution of 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water and use it to wipe the bins and shelves down; then rinse in plain water and air dry.
Step 3: Deodorize the Interior
Now you’re ready to wash the inside of the refrigerator. For this, our experts recommend a solution of 1 cup baking soda per gallon of water. Wipe down the interior with a sponge soaked in the solution. For caked-on food, dip a damp sponge directly in baking powder and apply a little elbow grease. Stay away from abrasive cleaners and pads, which can scratch the interior of the refrigerator.
Step 4: Air it Out
Here’s where the patience piece comes in. For best results, you need to unplug the refrigerator, leave the door open, and air it out for at least one day. If the refrigerator smells persist, wipe the interior down again with the baking soda solution and air it out for another day.
Tip: To introduce a pleasant smell, you can place a couple of cotton balls soaked with vanilla inside the refrigerator and freezer and close them in there for a few hours before restocking.
Step 5: Clean the Evaporator
If there’s a lasting funk that just won’t go away, chances are the refrigerator smells have permeated the evaporator coil, which produces cold air for the fridge and freezer. The coil, along with the fan that distributes the air, are typically located on the back wall of the freezer.
In the video above, we show you how to clean the evaporator on a top-freezer refrigerator. Start by removing the screws that anchor the panel. Next disconnect the plug for the electronic controls and icemaker. Remove and wash the panel. Use a spray bottle to apply warm soapy water to the coils, capturing the dirty water runoff with an old rag; repeat the process with fresh water to rinse. Allow the coil to air dry completely before replacing the panel.
This job is definitely easiest on a top-freezer, since you have plenty of room to maneuver. But you should be able to access and clean the evaporator on any refrigerator; check your user’s manual for specific instructions.
Note that if you have a newer refrigerator with dual evaporators, you will have two sets of coils—one for the freezer and one for the fridge. But if the odor is only in the fresh food compartment, you’ll only have to clean that coil.
Now if you can only get someone to decontaminate that disgusting fridge at work.
George S. Everly, Jr. PhD, ABPP, FACLP
Most people try to avoid adversity, not understanding that it promotes growth.
One of the tried-and-true lessons of history is that adversity can fuel happiness and success.
As a muscle grows stronger with resistance, so can your resilience.
Perhaps rather than trying to avoid all adversity, we should embrace it and let it propel us to greater heights.
Simply said, stress can be the father of growth, while a crisis can be the mother of innovation. The notion that great good can emerge from great adversity is as old as the legend of the great Phoenix, who not only arises but soars to new heights from its own ashes.
In 1598, William Shakespeare penned the play As You Like It. One of the most famous lines from that play is spoken in Act 2 Scene 1 by the deposed Duke Senior, “Sweet are the uses of adversity which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head” (II.1.12-17). Even 500 years ago, the potential value of adversity was recognized, not by a great healer, but by a great playwright.
Can this really be the case?
Fast-forward to the great silent film-era star Mary Pickford. She was called the most popular actress in the world in the 1910s and 1920s. Failing to successfully continue acting with the advent of the “talkies” (movies with recorded sound), she co-founded the film company United Artists. Shifting her talents to producing and directing, she became the most powerful woman in the entertainment industry. She once noted, “You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”
Rather than fear and try to avoid crisis, a fool’s errand at best, perhaps we should accept the inevitability of crisis and prepare for, if not embrace, it. As a muscle grows stronger with stress, so can teams, organizations, communities, and even individuals.
Indeed, positive things can emerge from the crisis.
According to the remarkable book The Coddling of the American Mind (2018) by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, overprotection is the greatest failure we can commit. It engenders a victim mentality and a false belief in fragility. And as Spencer wrote, the ultimate result of shielding men from their effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
Crisis reveals true strength. It also reveals true opportunities for those prepared to take advantage. With the dawning of the 20th century, the written form of the Chinese language largely changed to the logosyllabic Mandarin form. There is not an alphabet, per se, but rather characters that serve as symbols used to capture the intention of the writer. The English word “crisis” may be captured by the Chinese characters 危 机. Loosely translated, these two characters are the symbols for “danger” and “possibility” (opportunity), respectively.
Dr. John Krumboltz’s happenstance theory states that career and life development is best fostered by preparing for opportunities that you may not know even exist in the current moment. Myriad unpredictable factors are at work potentially shaping the future. This includes crisis. One of President Obama’s key advisors, Rahm Emanuel, once noted, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Further, it may be said that a rising tide lifts all boats, but a storm can actually benefit the few that are prepared for adversity. Louis Pasteur observed, “Chance favors the prepared…”article continues after advertisement
In his last book, Behold the Man (1908), the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that a person who has “turned out well” could be recognized by the ability to take advantage and prosper from adversity. Nietzsche wrote: “Was ihn nicht umbringt, macht ihn starker” (“What does not kill him makes him stronger”).
So what shall it be? The next time adversity enters your life, will you run from it, or will you embrace it and use it as a stepping stone to greater happiness and success?
SBA Stands Ready to Assist Louisiana Businesses and Residents Affected by Hurricane Ida
SBA Virtual Recovery Centers to Open Tuesday, Aug. 31
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to Louisiana businesses and residents as a result of President Biden’s major disaster declaration, U.S. Small Business Administration’s Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced.
The declaration covers Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana parishes as a result of Hurricane Ida that began on Aug. 26, 2021.
“SBA’s mission-driven team stands ready to help Louisiana’s small businesses and residents impacted by Hurricane Ida,” said Administrator Guzman. “We’re committed to providing federal disaster loans swiftly and efficiently, with a customer-centric approach to help businesses and communities recover and rebuild.”
In consideration of the public health concerns due to the Coronavirus pandemic, on Tuesday, Aug. 31, SBA will establish a Virtual Business Recovery Center to provide personalized assistance to business owners. In addition, SBA will also open a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center to help homeowners and renters. Customer Service Representatives will be available to business owners and individuals to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each person complete their electronic loan application.
Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.
For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available to businesses regardless of any property damage.
Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.
Low Interest Rates
Interest rates can be as low as 2.855 percent for businesses, 2 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.563 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.
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In 2017, Entergy was pulling out all the stops! Put aside the $300 million in finance charges, Entergy is charging the citizens of New Orleans. It would be worth it, they claimed. New Orleans would be able to withstand a direct hit by a major hurricane. In fact, they said an auto black switch could immediately turn on the lights. Maybe some downed power lines might affect a particular neighborhood. But electricity would be available for distribution immediately. But did Entergy focus on profits or electricity?
Fast forward to today. Five days out and the city is less than 1% powered. In fact, only about 475 homes got powered by nearly half billion-dollar plant on day 3. That’s over $1 million a house and two days late. And Entergy’s current plans do not even include using the new plant to restore power. Entergy’s focus is on rerouting and restoring downed transmission lines that feed the city.
But back in 2017, Entergy promised the exact opposite. The new plant meant New Orleans could be a power island. Everybody might be dark around the city. But New Orleans and its brand new gas-powered plant would shine bright after the storm. Entergy claimed the new power plant was the ultimate backup power plan. If we approved the $300 million dollar gas powered plant in New Orleans East, that all the citizens of Orleans Parish would have lights right after a major hurricane hit the city. Even though the plant was old school technology, it was dependable. And a fancy newfangled automatic black start switch would kick on if the winds knocked out transmission lines.
A Bag of Goods
Entergy sold New Orleans a bag of goods. Construction of the plant was solely to increase Entergy’s bottom line. There are two ways for energy companies to make money off municipalities. One is to have lots of people turn on lots of lights. They pay their bills and the energy company makes a profit. The other is through the creation of asset payments over time. Front the costs of building a new gas plant. Then charge the ratepayers for the cost of the plant plus interest over time. Oh and charge them higher rates for the power it generates too.
In this case Entergy makes money three ways: 1) profit on the construction of the plant. 2) They inflated the cost of the plant (for which ratepayers reimburse the company) and 3) are guaranteed monthly interest. They profit nearly an additional $250 million on the New Orleans East plant. Good for them. But at least have a plant that works to show for it. Otherwise, the plant is either a straight con or complete incompetence.
And the proof is in the outage map.
For a long time, politicians would say they are going to run government like a business. But government is not a profit center. Entergy focused on generating profits. Government should focus on generating electricity availability.
The New Orleans City Council is the regulatory body of Entergy New Orleans. Many members have talked about how lucky we are that we didn’t flood. That after Katrina, we could not be back in the city for weeks. That power took over a month to restore. And this time we have power in under two weeks. We invested billions in new levees and got bang for our bucks. No flooding.
And we invested $650 million(construction costs plus interest) for a shiny new plant. And the investment by ratepayers was for immediate and citywide power availability. Look again at the outage map.
“Right now my main focus is on getting power restored. And I am deeply grateful to the men and women on the ground in New Orleans working to turn our lights back on. Once we’re back, there will be some serious questions top execs at Entergy need to answer around reliability, transmission and whether NOPS really did what ratepayers were promised it would do
Helena Moreno, New Orleans City Council President
Remember Entergy promised:
“In addition, the unit will also include black-start capability, which will enable the Company to start the unit even when there is no power on the electric grid. This will give the company the ability to restore electric service, should a complete loss of service occur. This could be a tremendous benefit if New Orleans is electrically “islanded” from the rest of the interconnected transmission grid, as it was after Hurricane Gustav.”
This is much more than just a company delivering less than it promised. Every month residents pay for the new power plant. Like a regressive sales tax, this fee affects the least amongst us the greatest. People who need oxygen and other medical devices and believed Entergy are in serious trouble. Seniors who relied on Entergy’s promises are left sweltering and at risk. People just want to save their food. Maybe get some air circulation from a fan. So, they improperly install a generator and die. Others are spending rent and car payments on hotels.
“Entergy gave New Orleans exactly what it wanted. A power system to withstand storms. Too bad it failed them and put lives at risk.”
Monique Harden of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
Our plan and the subsequent investment in the levee system worked. Our streets are dry and passable. Too bad we did not properly plan or invest inside the levee system. Our people are suffering as a result.
Oliver Thomas Candidate for City Council District E
Entergy promised this would not happen. But they focused on generating profit not electricity.